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Marketing is one of those departments that your great-grandfather's company probably didn't have. Maybe it was a tailor shop, and everyone in the neighborhood knew to go there for the best quality work. Today, businesses can't just open up shop and hope that word-of-mouth will drive traffic. That's what marketing is for. It's a huge industry with a lot of different types and levels of roles, so marketing staff duties and responsibilities vary a lot from company to company.
What Marketing Does
Simply put, marketing is how a business makes its customers aware of its services. Imagine a new company starts producing a new type of cereal. Marketing is the process through which the company decides how to position the cereal in the marketplace. Should it be aimed primarily at health-conscious adults? Kids? Seniors? What should the cereal be named, and how will the advertising campaign be rolled out? What will make customers decide to try it? Marketing professionals first come up with those answers and then put a plan into place.
There's a common misconception that marketing and advertising are synonyms. That's not exactly right. Think of advertising as a part of marketing – it's one element of a successful marketing strategy. However, there's a lot more to marketing than advertising, and there are a ton of different roles in the marketing sphere. Brands and companies often have in-house marketing departments that work solely on marketing that company's product or services. Smaller companies and brands work with independent marketing firms that have a variety of clients at the same time.
Having a bachelor's degree in marketing, public relations or a similar communications field is usually a requirement to work in the industry. There's no such thing as a typical marketing staff job description. Roles and responsibilities vary a lot from company to company.
Many new grads enter the marketing industry as assistants. Most marketing companies employ some staffers as assistants. As in other industries, marketing assistants can expect to handle a lot of administrative tasks including answering phones, running errands, and scheduling meetings and travel for their bosses. However, marketing assistants also handle actual marketing tasks.
A marketing assistant might research competing brands and present those findings to firm higher-ups. The assistant may also prepare and send out mailings, such as press packages that share information about the brand or product the company is currently marketing. These professionals also assist various departments in the firm on whatever projects they need help with. A marketing assistant should get a chance to learn about a lot of different aspects of the company through this role.
Some large offices employ administrative assistants who do all the clerical work associated with running the firm, while marketing assistants focus solely on tasks that are directly related to marketing. How much do entry-level marketing jobs pay? It varies depending on geographical area and the duties of the role, but entry-level marketing workers can expect to earn somewhere between $35,000 and $50,000 per year.
Market Research Analysts
Market research analysts typically work with the people who are developing and building a new product or service. They analyze the current market and competition to help those developers figure out what customers want and how a new product can be successful in the market.
For example, say a company is making a new type of lip gloss. A market research analyst studies the current makeup field and identifies who's buying lip gloss, where and why they buy it, and what they want out of a new lip gloss product. The analyst then shares those findings and makes recommendations for how the company can generate customer interest in buying its new lip gloss and what the price point should be. An analyst might also study the production side and figure out how the company can make the lip gloss in the most economical and efficient way.
These jobs are data-heavy, and analysts spend a lot of time studying numbers and creating spreadsheets. There is a creative element to the role, but analysts should expect to spend most of their time alone in front of a computer.
Product Marketing Manager
Product marketing manager is another term that's used widely throughout the marketing field, although the job requirements vary by company. Typically, a product marketing manager is the person who oversees the whole marketing process for a specific product.
While working closely with the teams that are designing and creating the product, the product marketing manager starts creating a marketing plan when the product is still in the early stages of development and oversees the entire marketing campaign from start to finish. This process can take years, and the product marketing manager is actively involved the entire time. Assistants and analysts might report directly to the manager. In smaller firms, a product marketing manager may be a one-person team and do all those tasks.
Social Media Manager
Now that social media is a huge part of how consumers interact with and learn about products, every marketing firm has at least one person who focuses on these platforms. Think about your favorite pizza chain or shoe brand – it almost certainly has a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram page and might have a presence on other social sites too.
The social media manager creates posts on those platforms that raise awareness of the brand or product and (hopefully) entice customers to use it. Social media managers also monitor what people are saying about the brand online and sometimes respond to those customers. Because going viral is great for name recognition, social media managers have to be internet savvy and be able to craft funny or creative posts that get a lot of positive attention.
Social media managers also study the online presence of the brand's competitors and analyze data to help them improve audience engagement on these platforms. They have to be up to date on current social media trends and understand the algorithms that these platforms use to get the most attention possible for their posts. If the brand works with celebrity spokespeople who advertise the product on their own pages, the social media manager works with them to craft the copy that they post.
Advertising Coordinator or Manager
Marketing involves all aspects of preparing and presenting a product to attract customers, and advertising is the specific part of that process that introduces the customers to the product. In a marketing department or firm, the advertising coordinator or manager oversees TV commercials, print ads, billboards and direct mailings.
Although in some marketing departments advertising may be handled by one person, typically a department of several people oversees advertising. There may be graphic designers who create the look of the ads, writers to produce copy for ads and press materials, and media planners who schedule advertisements to run in various forms of media. A large company or major brand might have an advertising department that is separate from the marketing department.
Digital Marketing Manager
Virtually every brand that currently sells to customers has an internet presence of some kind. A website, social media platforms, email advertising, Groupon discount deals – savvy businesses reach their customers through a ton of online avenues. Because there's such a variety of marketing uses for the internet, a digital marketing manager often has to wear several hats and do a lot of collaborating with other members of the marketing department.
This person might build, edit and improve the brand or product's website if it's used primarily as an advertising tool. (In a company that does online sales or has high-volume use for its website, a team of coders probably does the site building.) A digital marketing manager tracks data to see how customers are finding and interacting with the website and reacting to email and video campaigns.
The social media manager may report to this person, or the two departments may collaborate. In small marketing firms or departments, one person might perform both jobs.
Public Relations Manager
Public relations is all about spin. A PR manager is the point person who shapes the public message about the product. The PR manager writes press releases, talks to news outlets about the product, organizes press events, launches parties and does damage control if problems arise that could affect the reputation of the brand or product.
PR manager is one of those roles that some companies have, while in others, another member of the team does the public relations work. Because a lot of companies have marketing departments made up of only a few people, marketing staff job descriptions can include a mix of areas like social media, public relations, advertising and research.
Search Engine Optimization Specialist
Search engine optimization, or SEO, should be part of any marketing strategy that includes an online component. SEO has to do with the way that search engines such as Google present search results. If a customer searches "healthy cereal for kids," for example, complicated algorithms determine which articles and websites are positioned at the top of the results page and which ones are buried on page 3 or 4.
SEO specialists understand how to navigate those algorithms to get as much attention as possible for their companies' products. They strategize ways to increase traffic to the company's website and get more attention on the videos, articles and other content that the digital marketing manager produces. This role is data-heavy and requires a deep understanding of how search engines work. The digital media manager may also handle SEO tasks in companies that don't have a dedicated SEO specialist.
Chief Marketing Officer/Marketing Director
In companies that have an in-house marketing department, the person who heads it up is called the chief marketing officer or marketing director. Ultimately, everyone else in the department reports to this person, who in turn reports to the company CEO or president. Sometimes a department includes multiple teams working on different campaigns. The chief marketing officer or marketing director oversees all those campaigns.
This person usually oversees the department's budget and might make hiring and firing decisions. The marketing head typically has a lot of face time with clients. In an independent firm, the marketing director might lead pitch meetings to try to secure new clients. The CMO or MD is also responsible for the overall function of the marketing team and might have a hand in every part of the marketing process. An effective marketing head looks at both the big picture and the team's day-to-day progress to make improvements while supporting and motivating the team.
This is typically the highest role in a marketing department with the highest salary. CMOs at major corporations may earn annual salaries of $1 million or more. Average salaries for these executives are between $150,000 and $200,000 per year.
- Fremont College: Marketing Career Opportunities: 9 Common Types of Marketing Jobs
- Payscale: Marketing Assistant Salary
- Aha! Blog: The Product Manager vs the Product Marketing Manager
- Concordia University: Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference?
- CNBC: These Are the Highest Paid Chief Marketing Officers in the US
- Payscale: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Salary
Kathryn has been a lifestyle writer for more than a decade. Her work has appeared on USAToday.com and Indeed.com.